Four Minneapolis cops walked off of their jobs in protest after Minnesota Lynx players held a press conference denouncing racial profiling by police, then wore shirts supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting.
The incident happened on Saturday but is only now gaining attention in the national media.
Prior to Saturday’s game against the Dallas Wings, the Lynx, of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), held a press conference to talk about the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling (in Baton Rouge) and Philando Castile (in suburban Minneapolis). Forward Maya Moore, the 2014 WNBA MVP, said the issue is a matter of race.
“We are highlighting a longtime problem of racial profiling.”
Following the press conference, the players emerged onto the court wearing pregame warm-up jerseys with a message about recent incidents of police brutality. On the front, the jerseys read “Change starts with us, justice and accountability.” On the back, the jerseys bore the names of Philando Castile’s and Alton Sterling, along with “Black Lives Matter” and a Dallas Police Department emblem.
— TheWrap (@TheWrap) July 12, 2016
Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson said the shirts were intended to “honor and mourn the loss of precious American citizens and to plead change for all of us.”
— snopes.com (@snopes) July 9, 2016
However, four off-duty Minneapolis cops who were working security at the Target Center that night were having none of that. All four walked off of their jobs in protest.
At this point, it bears noting that the four police officers were off-duty and were working as private contractors with the Target Center; they did not walk off of their jobs as police.
After news reached other Minneapolis-area cops that their colleagues had walked out of a Lynx game in protest, others also began vowing to never work a Lynx game again, according to Lt. Bob Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, the union that represents rank-and-file officers.
“Others said they heard about it and they were not going to work Lynx games.”
He also said that the Lynx may have a problem attracting off-duty cops to work security in the future.
“If [the players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there.”
Kroll said he’s glad the officers quit, adding, “I commend them for it.”
Kroll also took a dig at attendance at Lynx games, saying, “They only have four officers working the event because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw.”
In fact, attendance at Saturday’s game was 7,613. By comparison, NBA team Minnesota Timberwolves, which also play at the Target Center, have an average attendance of 14,528, nearly double that of Saturday’s Lynx game. The seating capacity at the Target Center for a basketball game is 19,356.
Police spokesman Scott Seroka said Chief Janeé Harteau both admitted to being aware of the incident but declined to comment until all of the facts are in. Similarly, management of the Target Center also declined to comment.
In a statement, the Lynx said that the police officers who quit were entitled to their opinions, just as their players are.
“While our players message mourned the loss of life due to last week’s shootings, we respect the right of those individual officers to express their own beliefs in their own way.”
The Lynx also noted that the cops’ walkout in no way affected the safety and security of the fans and players in attendance Saturday night.
Do you think the cops who walked off of the job at the Lynx game over the players’ Black Lives Matter support were in the right?
[Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images]